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from the engineers at jpl. >> as far as the amount of control that the team has during entry, descent and landing, it's identical to the control that anybody watching at home has. we're all along for the ride. >> reporter: scientists can only watch at the last seven minutes of this ambitious mission determines the outcome says cbs news space analyst bill harwell. >> if is a success it will be one of the great scientific triumphs of the space-age and if it fails it could be a setback for interplanetary exploration. >> reporter: the mission is to several forevidence that mar once could support life, an exploration that is expected to last 2 years. >> jeff: what kind of tools and equipment does the rover have? >> well, it begins with the map there that has a number of cameras on it to capture detailed panoramic images of regard mars as you have never seen before. other than that it is he qiched to do what a human geologist would do on mars. pick up samples of rock and soil and then run them through an onboard laboratory to discover exactly what mars is made of. they're looking for carbon
of the red planet. john blackstone is at jpl in pasadena california. john, good morning. >> reporter: good morning, jeff. i think we can safely say this morning that the jet propulsion lab is the happiest place on earth. because the "curiosity" over the car-sized rover, this is just a model the real thing is safely on the surface of mars. it's such a complex landing that some observers gave the chances of success at no better than 50/50. nobody had ever done anything like this before. and it was all happening 154 million miles away. >> we're just under six minutes to entry. >> in mission control, the tension was obvious as the spacecraft approached mars to begin what was called seven minutes of terror. but with each successful stage of the entry, confidence grew. >> parachute deploy. [ applause ] >> nothing was certain, however until "curiosity" was confirmed to have landed safely on martian soil. >> touchdown confirmed we are safe on mars. [ cheering ] >> as the celebration began, mission control seemed to lose control. many involved had been working on this mars rov
it's in the 9s. those engineers at jpl are really good. >> landing on mars has been a tricky thing. 70% of the missions that landed on mars have failed. that's both the u.s. and with russia as well. what are the factors that complicate this? >> the atmosphere of mars is thick enough to heat your spacecraft and melt it on the way in if you don't slow down in the right way. it's thin enough that it's hard to slow down. it's a delicate balance between slowing down fast enough and not slowing down at all. that's what takes this incredibly complicated heat shield parachute rocket sky crane maneuver. >> not to mention, this is something that scientists won't be seeing in real time. there's going to be a delay. why? >> well it takes 14 minutes at this point for light to get from mars to earth. radio signals too. so this lander will be on the surface of mars in one piece or many for seven minutes before the signal gets back to earth to tell us that it's successful or not. >> we've had missions like this before. what makes this one different in. >> well this one, it's
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